Babb, thank you for your service
Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand when we commemorate all those who have served our countries in the armed services. It is a hugely significant day for us. This year the huge marches that usually take place all over both countries have been cancelled. Nevertheless, the spirit of the day is alive and well.
Our beloved friend, Babb, was born in 1925 and spent her entire life on the remote family farm in NSW, except for two years in boarding school, which she hated, a couple of years at the end of her life in a nursing home AND three years in the Australian Womens Army Service in WWII.
Both of Babb's parents had served in World War I in France, her father in the Light Horse and her mother as an army nurse. They wouldn't give permission for their only daughter to join the army in World War II so she waited until she turned 18 and then enlisted. She spent almost all her three years in service driving ambulance trucks to and from the ports in Queensland to pick up the sick and wounded soldiers returning by ship from New Guinea. Children who grow up on large properties learn to drive many years before they are allowed to have a licence. Babb was a wonderful driver.
Babb was discharged from the army in early 1946 on compassionate grounds because her mother had become very ill and she was needed back on the farm. There she lived and worked until her late 80s. She never married but was a beloved aunt of her niece and nephew, both farmers.
Babb was a greatly loved friend of ours and, whenever we could, we visited her on the farm over a number of decades.
Soldiers in World War II were given cigarettes to help relax them. Babb learned to smoke but never heavily. Nevertheless, it led to vascular disease and in her last few years of life she had one leg amputated from below the knee and the big toe on her other foot amputated as well. She soldiered on and, while in the nursing home, became a very competent driver of her electric wheelchair. When she turned 90 her wonderful family put on a great party and she was celebrated by a large group of friends and family. The photo on the right was taken at that gathering. Her hair colour was natural. She died at the age of 92 with the colour of her hair still a lovely natural auburn.
Together with another of her great friends I delivered the eulogy at her funeral in the local country town, 70 km away from the farm. One of the questions I posed was how was it that a woman who had spent such an isolated life had people at her funeral from many parts of Australia and with messages from people scattered across the UK. She was, indeed, a remarkable woman.
We salute you Driver Babb.
Lest we forget.